My Journey Over the Hump
It was around three years ago I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety.
It’s odd, those words were never even in my sphere of thinking. They seemed foreign to me. Tasted weird on the tongue. I thought of it as most people do; a fleeting feeling, not a disease.
Before I went to university, I don’t think anyone would have ever described me as unhappy. There was never a day where I wasn’t smiling or laughing. Happiness wasn’t an indulgence; it was a daily ritual. An expected piece, in my small but joyful life.
I can’t tell you exactly what changed. I found myself walking through a hazy world. A dream world. Nothing seemed real. I didn’t believe I could feel anything anymore. All the things I loved begun to lose their taste. Life had lost its colour. Life had lost its meaning.
On the other end of the spectrum, at points I worried too much. I began to have severe panic attacks, some that would last for what felt like hours. I felt like I was going to die. My heart beat so severely I thought it was going to pop out of my chest. I used to curl up under my blanket and wish my life away.
Nothing could distract me from my own poisonous thoughts. I was living in hell. I was consumed.
For a long time, I felt alone. My school work suffered and I was forced to make the decision to drop out of my first year of university before taking my end exams. Dropping out, I felt like giving up. I felt like a different person. I was a different person.
My parents took me home. In their (and my) naivety, I think they thought depression was something that could be fixed. Like a plaster and kiss, put on a cut. In a single year I saw three therapists, took up mindfulness meditation, started working out again, and began taking medication.
My parents and brother struggled to understand what I was going through. I remember my mother sitting in a doctor’s consultation with me. The doctor asked if I had any suicidal thoughts. When I said yes I heard my mother break down in tears behind me. My illness felt like it was tearing apart the entire family.
It was around this time; I think I realised how much my family truly loved me. Sure I’d always known it deep down, but now I had a full and comprehensive understanding of how deep that love really went. They began to educate themselves about depression and anxiety, to try to understand what I was going through. They dedicated their time to my wellbeing more than I thought possible. As time goes by I realise more and more how much they did for me, and how much my illness hurt them as much as it hurt me. I am honoured and blessed to be a part of my wonderful family, I know many aren’t so lucky.
As for my friends, the ones who stuck around really stuck around. Looking back, their patience and understanding astounds me. Whether it was a cup of tea or a simple text. Love, as corny as it sounds, helped bring me back to life.
It was also me. It was a belief in myself. It was a drive. It was forcing myself to get out of bed in the morning. It was forcing myself to begin to live my life again. Yes, the cloud was still there. Yes, it was the hardest thing I will probably ever have to do. Yes, I still battle every single day. And I suspect I will battle it too some degree for the rest of my life. But, you know what? That’s okay. Every day I fight, it gets easier. Every day I fight, I laugh a little louder.
Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t wish depression or anxiety on anyone. But, in the same breath, it has made me a better person. It has made me more appreciative of the friends and family who love me. It has made me savour the happy moments in life a little bit more than I ever did before. It has made me more understanding, and open minded. My mental illness has changed me, in many ways for the better.
I write this to anyone out there, who doesn’t see the light. I promise you, it’s there. It may be hard or near impossible to find, but it’s there. Keep fighting. Keep pushing yourself. I swear to you it’s worth it in the end. And I swear to you that there are people who care about you finding it.